Jeff Dunham’s puppets aren’t really called “poets.” Many of them are called “puppets,” and are not actually named. They’re called “poet” because he plays the organ, because his family name rhymes with “poet,” and “pen” because he has a name in the English language that sounds like “penis.” Many of his puppets have names that are like poet pen-names or rhyming with “penis.” (And some of them are named Poetically, although I’ve never heard Jeff Dunham sing “Poetically” as a sing-a-long song.)
How do I find out which of your characters is a comedian, and which one is a director?
No one really knows what an “artist” is in this business. I’ll say this. You may hear Jeff Dunham’s name in a movie for the first time. But most of the time you’ll hear Jeff Dunham’s name for the first time at a festival screening, or when we ask the audience to name their favorites.
What can I expect at some of Jeff Dunham’s performances?
A lot of people just want to get up and listen. A lot of them go first and don’t get to ask questions. So a lot of Jeff Dunham’s audiences are people who don’t necessarily know who he is, but are drawn to the fact that he is coming in so early, that they want to get up there, get their popcorn, and sit and listen. So a lot of the first performances of anything he’s in, particularly the performances of his most famous films — The Pianist, Mr. Tambourine Man, and Boyhood — he’ll put onstage someone from the audience, usually a friend of a friend or two, who acts as his friend backstage and in the audience. He’s a very good friend of mine at the same time that he’s a very good friend of mine, and he gives me advice on which movies I should watch. [Laughs.] He is really good at showing you his own life, so in order to have it be accessible to the audience, he needs his audience to know that he’s an actor and to know who he is, and he doesn’t want to give it away in the way he does in his films.
What can I expect when I’m in the audience?
It’s not a big deal. Because I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, but really not a big
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